Alienation Between Politics and Business

Alexandra Wrann looks back at the politics of the past year and wonders whether it is still possible to come to pragmatic decisions that take account of the economic realities of the wine industry.

Reading time: 2m 45s

WEINWIRTSCHAFT Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Wrann (Photo: Ad Lumina/Ralf Ziegler)
WEINWIRTSCHAFT Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Wrann (Photo: Ad Lumina/Ralf Ziegler)

There are times when I tend to lose faith in humanity. Especially in the part of it that is supposed to save humanity. For example, when the world comes together to prevent climate collapse, as it did recently - in a desert country that can afford indoor ski slopes. As if that wasn't irony enough, the meeting was also chaired by the head of an oil company that is by definition pro-fossil fuels. The joint final declaration called on the global community to turn away from fossil fuels, but the participants were unable to agree on a clear phase-out, even though it was demanded by more than 100 countries.

Of course, the wording plays a symbolic political role. However, the world's population will have to wait a long time for concrete successes. As on so many fronts, the situation seems deadlocked. Individual interests are becoming more and more important and the will to compromise almost non-existent - like the ambition to move towards towards the common rather than the particular good. And of course, in the end it is neither the Saudi oil sheikh nor the foreign minister of any country who suffers the consequences. It is entire countries, social classes and economic sectors.

Including the wine industry. The battle for water, a resource that has become so important for viticulture, will intensify dramatically in the coming years. Without clever, forward-looking concepts that regulate the fair and appropriate distribution of water, those who pay the most for it will ultimately triumph (and be able to irrigate their land). It should be obvious that these will only very rarely be wine producers.

"It is high time for a change of attitude in politics."

The gap between rich and poor, big and small is widening, the dependence of some on others is growing. Crisis after crisis is shrinking the field; small producers are giving up completely, medium-sized producers are fighting for every bottle, and of course the big ones are also groaning under rising costs, scaling up wherever they can.

Politicians, whether at federal, national or EU level, are not just standing idly by - they are actually encouraging this process with ever new catalogs of measures and bureaucratic monstrosities.

From a consumer-protection perspective, the idea of labeling wine with its ingredients or nutritional values like any other food may still be considered an understandable decision. However, the grotesque, months-long, back and forth discussions within the EU surrounding the actual formulation of this regulation border on sabotage.

Here, too, it is becoming increasingly clear that those who make the decisions are so far removed from the reality of the lives of the people and businesses affected that, even with the best of intentions, they are highly unlikely to be able to make pragmatic decisions that take social reality into account. Seeking contact, exchanging ideas, understanding the actual consequences of a proposal whose content is probably not even understood by the politicians themselves would of course be desirable - but is unrealistic.

Whether national governments or the EU - their worlds are as far removed from winegrowers, retailers or consumers as never before.

Politicians are too busy administering themselves, maintaining processes and shaping bureaucracy instead of reducing it, so that the much-vaunted proximity to citizens can at best be a proximity to corporations who rely on their lobbying power to attract attention. National governments and the EU are further removed from winegrowers, retailers and consumers than ever before.

This kind of alienation is poison for democracy and the market economy. It distributes opportunities unequally, gives preference to those who can use money and power to improve their own position. Overall, social, political and economic problems are not solved, but swept under the carpet, sat out, or tinkered with and made worse until the next election or until it's the politicians' pension beckons. It is high time for a change of attitude in large or even all parts of politics. Unfortunately, the chances of this happening are extremely slim.


Mandatory ingredient information on labels causes discontent in the industry.

Reading time: 1m 30s



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